Two hours away from school, the girls’ varsity volleyball team got ready to play what could be its last game of the season on Oct. 30.
But the distance didn’t stop Country Day fans from showing up.
Riding a bus chartered by athletic director Matt Vargo, five senior boys and a group of parents rode all the way to Stone Ridge Christian High School in Merced with the team.
“It’s the first time the team’s gotten this far in playoffs in five years, so I’m really excited,” senior Tori Van Vleck said.
But Stoneridge’s 124-person student body showed up en masse, with the back corner of the court filled with fans holding up Hawaiian-themed posters and cutouts of the players’ faces.
“We’ve played teams with a lot of fans before, so I don’t think it had that big of an impact on us,” senior Lia Kaufman said. “They were kinda loud, but once our fans got involved, it was fun.”
After a quick prayer from one of Stoneridge’s players, the game was underway.
The Stoneridge Knights started the game strong, scoring six points before the Cavs could score their first.
The Cavs attempted to mount a comeback, scoring two points in a row, but the Knights were able to maintain their lead.
Though the Cavs kept slowly climbing, the Knight kept their lead, and the Cavs lost the first set 10-25.
“We knew they were a difficult team, so no matter the outcome, we just had to play our hardest,” Kaufman said. “I think everyone was having a lot of fun, and we just had to keep a positive mindset.”
The second set started off better for the Cavs, who took the lead for the first time, 2-1.
The girls were able to keep up with the Knights up to a 6-6 tie.
But once again, the Knights established a commanding lead, creating a 10-point gap, 11-21.
Though the Cavs kept establishing momentum, they lost the second set 13-25.
The third and final set followed the same trend as the first, with the Knights once more scoring point after point.
The Cavs scored their first, 1-5, due to a missed serve from the other team.
But the effort the Cavs had put in throughout the three sets wasn’t enough. After staying in the lead most of the game, the Cavs lost the third and final set 25-15.
“I had a feeling our varsity team would make it into playoffs,” coach Sarah Song said. “We haven’t been to the second round in many years, but there is always the hope and belief in our team.”
This loss in the semifinals marked the end of the season for the girls and the last volleyball game at Country Day for seniors Heidi Johnson, Bella Mathisen, Kaufman and Van Vleck.
“I think we have big positions to fill as our seniors move on from our volleyball program,” Song said.
“Next year’s players will need to step up into leadership positions and key positions like the setter and outside hitter spots.
“I’m excited to see how the team changes and grows.”
—By Mehdi Lacombe